From Fantasy to Reality – Peter Jackson Brings Lord of the Rings to Life For Tolkien Fans

by Nov 6, 2001Lord of the Rings (Movies)

“I started with one goal: to take movie-goers into the fantastical world of Middle-earth in a way that is believable and powerful.” -Peter Jackson

One Fan’s Quest

Peter Jackson was eighteen years old when he first read The Lord of the Rings on a twelve-hour train ride. He didn’t finish the book during the train ride, but he remembers thinking, “Wow! This would make a great movie!” For years he waited for someone else to make the film. He waited so long, in fact, that he finally felt compelled to make it himself. At forty years old, Peter Jackson has worked on the film trilogy for seven years pouring his heart into every aspect of the project. He’s the first director in history to simultaneously write, direct and produce three feature films at once. If you think that is daunting, wait until you hear how he’s done it. In a word: detailed.

“The bottom line was this: everything had to feel real.” -Peter Jackson

Tolkien Is In The Details: His Commitment to the Fans

Tolkien’s biggest fan? Jackson might have to fight others on his production team for that title, because he has assembled hundreds of ardent fans to help him bring this epic trilogy to life. But one thing’s for sure, if Peter Jackson isn’t Tolkien’s biggest fan, he may be his most loyal. At least that’s what Tolkien scholar Bill Welden reported when he visited the New Zealand set. According to Welden, who has studied Tolkien’s work for thirty years, the level of detail in the film is breathtaking. For example, Welden reports seeing realistic props and sets handcrafted from scratch by metalworkers, glassblowers, ceramicists, woodworkers, and leather crafters. The result? More than 900 suits of armor, 2,000 weapons, 1,600 pairs of prosthetic ears and feet plus more than 20,000 household items have been crafted by hand to painstakingly create the illusion of reality. Jackson is making cinematic history while remaining fiercely loyal to the true spirit, if not the exact word, of Tolkien’s work. His singular goal is to transport million of die-hard (and soon-to-be) fans 7,000 years back in time to a magical world of Elves, Dwarves and talking trees.

“That’s the least we owe Tolkien and the legions of fans around the globe. They deserve our very best efforts.” -Peter Jackson

One Hundred Million People Can’t Be Wrong

Since The Fellowship of the Ring was first published in 1954, one hundred million readers around the world have consumed the trilogy. Today, 400 web sites are devoted to fans who continue to explore its depths. Visitors to voted it the best book of the millennium and in the late 1960’s, first-time purchasers of Tolkien reportedly outnumbered buyers of the Bible in the U. S. In one survey, three-fourths of the serious Lord of the Rings fans polled say they first read the book between the ages of 11-22 with more than half of those falling in the 11-15 age group. And for most, once is not enough. More than half (53%) of these die-hard fans report reading the book 3-10 times; almost a fourth (23%) have read it 11 or more times.

“Every time we shot a scene, I reread that part of the book right before, as did the cast. It was always worth it. Always inspiring.” -Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson Pays Special Tribute To Fans

Until Peter Jackson embarked on this cinematic adventure, Middle-earth existed only in the imaginations of readers and illustrators. Now, with a singular focus on realism, Jackson is bringing The Lord of the Rings mythology to life with strict adherence to the word and spirit of Tolkien’s epic adventure. These three films, the making of which will span more than a decade of Jackson’s life, will undoubtedly be his legacy in both film and Tolkien legend.

But perhaps Jackson’s greatest gift to Lord of the Rings fans is still to come. Jackson has agreed to list the names of The Lord of the Rings Fan Club’s charter members in the credits of the film’s DVDs. Like him, these fans were inspired by the story. And their dedication has inspired his commitment to bringing reality to fantasy. Not only will Tolkien’s vision of Middle-earth be immortalized on film, but his fans will be as well. One thing is clear, if Peter Jackson isn’t Tolkien’s #1 fan, he is sure to be #1 with Tolkien fans who are immortalized for all time on the DVDs in connection with their beloved epic.

(Some information from New Line Cinema‘s web site,, and an article by Scott Smith in Hemispheres magazine.)


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